Car, department store sales up

Steve Chiotakis: The nation's retailers reported a jump in sales in September, bolstered by robust car sales. It's the biggest increase in 7 months, and a sign consumers may -- MAY -- be ready to spend again.

Chris Christopher is a retail analyst with IHS Global Insight, and he's with us now. Hey Chris.

Chris Christopher: Hello.

Chiotakis: We've heard so much doom and gloom the past few months, but it looks like consumers proved the experts wrong. What's going on?

Christopher: Well on the retail sales front, there were sufficient revisions. So things are a lot better than we originally thought, especially over the summer months -- July and August in particular. However, the consumer sentiment numbers that came out for mid-October fell a bit, and that is not good news.

Chiotakis: Not good news -- but we saw sales up at a lot of big-box stores and specialty chains, right?

Christopher: Yes, and there were some interesting increases in department stores -- a little higher than originally thought. And of course, auto sales were very good, and that helps boost the economy significantly.

Chiotakis: And speaking of auto sales -- I know we saw a big jump there. What does that say about the rest of the economy?

Christopher: Yes, there was a strong increase. But have in mind -- there have been significant supply chain disruptions on the auto front that emanate from the mid-March earthquake in Japan. So there was a sort of a release of pent up demand -- or people were waiting to see a particular car on the lot, and then they went for it.

On the department store front, though, that is a pleasant surprise. And it's sort of showing that consumers are still chugging along.

Chiotakis: Can we keep it up?

Christopher: Hopefully, but there's not a lot of good news on the horizon. The jobs front doesn't look too good; unemployment is relatively high and it doesn't look like firms are going to start hiring at a faster pace. So that means that the mood is not too good.

Chiotakis: Well, we'll put the champagne away for a little while. Chris Christopher from IHS Global Insight. Chris, thanks.

Christopher: Thank you.

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